Monday, December 7, 2015

John Mayall in Rome, February 26th, 2014

John Mayall, the lion of the blues, keeps rocking away in Rome.

In Rome for his “80th Anniversary Tour”, the great British bluesman John Mayall shows no sign of slowing down.

The historic “father of the British Blues”, 80 year-old John Mayall, performed to a sold-out crowd in Rome.   Mayall needs no introduction to his stellar career that began way back in 1956 when he formed the group “Powerhouse Four”.   

Unquestionably, his most famous band has been the “Bluesbreakers”, his very own “University of the Blues, which he founded in London in 1963 after a brief spell with the “Blues Syndicate”.   Mayall’s new band eventually went on to record some 45 albums.

Some of the fine musicians that rubbed shoulders in the early years with Mayall were Jack Bruce (of “Cream” fame), Mick Fleetwood, Duster Bennett, John McVie, Aysnley Dunbar and Peter Green.

But perhaps the two most famous musicians that had the honor of playing with Mayall were Eric Clapton and a young Mick Taylor (Taylor was 16 when he showed up at a “Bluesbreakers’s show.  A guitar on stage was without its owner that night.  It belonged to Clapton.  Young Taylor asked John if he could play.  Mayall said ok, perhaps somewhat skeptical though of the very young guitarist, who went to play with his band at age 17.  Taylor’s also been considered by Mayall as one of the best slide-guitarists of the business).

Legend has it that it was John who recommended the young Taylor to a certain Sir Mick Jagger just after Brian Jones had died.  And history was in the making, as the young Taylor would leave his “mentor” Mayall to go play with the world’s “greatest rock and roll band” from 1969-74.

Mayall was joined on stage in Rome for his classic “jam session blues” concert, a mix of traditional Afro-American rhythms and jazz, by an outstanding back-up band made up of: Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums.  Mayall’s repertoire also included songs from his recent albums, “Tough” and “Live in London”.

Beady Eye in Rome February 17th, 2014

Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye live in Rome 

Liam Gallagher, the other half of a former great band, Oasis, played live to a packed audience at Ciampino’s (the military airport of Rome) Orion club with his new group (formed in 2009), Beady Eye. 

Beady Eye’s origins came about after the break-up of Oasis (once defined by Liam as the “world’s greatest band”) when his older brother Noel quit the group in August 2009 after the umpteenth squabble between the two. The remaining members gathered on and decided that they would "not quit making music together" and so Beady Eye was formed.  Their debut album was “Different Gear, Still Speeding”.

By November, 2009 Liam had announced that he and former Oasis band members had written new material as part of a new project, and could be gigging as early as a couple of months.  On 19 November, 2009 Liam announced that he would be recording an album with Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock. 

“The Roller” was announced as the band's first commercial single.  Fast-forward to April, 2013 when Liam announced that the band’s second album, “Be” would be released in the same year.  Their new double A-side "Iz Rite" /"Soul Love" was released in November, 2013.   

The band’s Rome show, thanks to the folks at Live Nation, included Liam on vocals, Gem Archer and Andy Bell on guitars and drummer Chris Sharrock, all four former members of Oasis.   And it happens with all great bands at one point during the show the power went off leaving both the band and fans up in the air.  Nevertheless, patience prevailed on behalf of Liam and his mates as the show continued shortly after when the electrical glitch was finally sorted out.

In the meantime, Liam has clearly stated that he wants to celebrate “Definitely Maybe”, the LP which put Oasis on the international music map 20 years ago.  Could this perhaps mean an Oasis Part II on the horizon?

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